Gunmen abduct Lebanese national in southern Nigeria

LAGOS (AFP) - Gunmen have kidnapped a Lebanese national from a construction site in southern Nigeria, where abductions for ransom occur frequently, the authorities said on Tuesday.

The assailants kidnapped the employee with Lebanese-owned Setraco Nigeria Limited construction company in Benin City in the southern state of Edo on Monday, police spokesman Moses Eguavoen told Agence France-Presse.

"The incident happened yesterday at about 10am, and the police have commenced investigation," said Mr Eguavoen.

He said he could not confirm initial reports that at least one soldier guarding the workers had been wounded or killed. A military spokesman in Edo state could not be reached.

A Setraco spokesman identified the victim as Mr Sani Youssef and said he was not aware of a ransom being demanded.

It was unclear who was behind the attack.

Ransom kidnappings occur regularly in southern Nigeria, with victims usually released unharmed after payments are made, unlike in the country's north, where Islamist extremists have killed a number of their hostages.

In February, two Lebanese were abducted along with two Syrians, a Greek, an Italian and a Briton from another Setraco site in the northern Nigerian state of Bauchi.

Islamist extremist group Ansaru later posted a video and a statement online announcing the hostages had been killed.